You can always tell the theme of a restaurant within seconds of walking through that front door.
At Jim Stalvey’s Restaurant, the very first image you’re greeted with is a glass refrigerator stacked with bright, red meat.
For decades, the restaurant has been a staple in the Covington community, with loyal customers visiting the establishment every day during its packed lunch and dinner hours.
With produce hand-picked daily from local farmer’s markets like Ramsey’s Produce, the restaurant is well known for its from-scratch recipes and hand-cut meats and vegetables. Its meat-and-three meals (the blue plate special), are a popular choice, with items varying from day-to-day.
“My husband (Jim Stalvey) is always full of ideas,” said administrative assistant Sharon Stalvey. “He’s good at understanding what people want and what people can afford.”
Owner Jim Stalvey is just as synonymous with his restaurant as he is for his work within the community.
Arriving in Covington in 1972, Stalvey has participated in helping build Covington into the city it is today; he helped write the petition which ultimately saw the passing of alcohol sales in the county, which allowed Stalvey’s Restaurant to serve the first alcoholic drink since Prohibition.
Perhaps his proudest moment as a Covington citizen was serving on the first SPLOST committee, which allowed the city to build the courthouse, library and various other facilities.
“It started something that still hasn’t stopped to this day,” said Stalvey. “Citizens of Covington knew it was the right way to get things done for the community.”
For the past five years, the restaurant has hosted a barbecue benefit for Newton Medical’s Auxiliary Services. Proceeds from the benefit have aided the hospital in getting medical equipment and supplies. To date, the benefit has raised over $70,000.
A restaurant entrepreneur for 58 years, Stalvey has opened over 50 restaurants in his career. Along with Stalvey’s Restaurant, he also owns three other popular eateries, including The Butcher Block on U.S. Highway 278.
As he approaches his 70th birthday this March, Stalvey — and his wife Sharon — hopes to slow down a bit, and to concentrate on the current businesses.
“The restaurant business is a tough stressful business,” said Stalvey. “But it’s nice to come to the restaurant and know almost all of your customers by name — and we’re still getting new people in every day.”